WRECK FROM THE MIDDLE AGES

LageplanIn the course of the 1996 survey campaign of the Landesverband for Underwater Archaeology M.V. some aerial photographs revealed a wreck site, situated close to the southern edge of the isle of Hiddensee. Divers reported it to be of clinkbuild shape and it was assumed to be of the middle ages. Therefor, soon afterwards, by the end of the year, a closer examination for this special wreck was arranged, led by Thomas Förster. Samples for dendrochronology were taken and proved the wreck to be of early 14th century dating.

Spanten und PlankenDue to this dating, the so called Gellenwrack (after the name of the southern tip of the isle of Hiddensee) is the oldest wreck in M.V. so far, which could be examined under water (the Slavonic ships from the 10th century at Ralswiek were found on dry land). No wonder, that the wreck rapidly gained public interest and instantly advanced to be of the "cog" type. Nevertheless, the excavation in 1997 showed that it is not a typical cog at least - this does no harm to its great importance to ship archaeology in the Baltic either.



SeefuchsThe Landesverband in association with the Landesamt managed to charter the 26m logger "Seefuchs" to serve as a base for all excavation work, starting in the summer of 1997. Over a period of 3 month a crew of up to 10 divers of the Landesverband, most of them certified as research divers, excavated the Gellenwreck by standard underwater excavation techniques.


The wreck itself had settled in 3m depth of water, some few hundred meters from the shore, probably where in the middle ages a sailing lane led to the city of Stralsund. Part of the cargo of limestone plates still covered the preserved part of the hull. To facilitate diving in the low visibility waters around Hiddensee and to serve as a base for a photomosaic, a 5 x 20m framework was established.


photomosaic, © Klaus Andrews


© Landesamt f. Bodendenkmalpflege M.V.


Ablšsen der Planken

Bergung der Kalkplatten

© Klaus Andrews

Having documented the cargo and hull features by drawing, photographs and video, the limestone plates were salvaged and the underlying hull documented in detail again. Then the marked planks were removed.


Aboard the vessel "Seefuchs", the planks were documented in detail, packed into plastic and stowed away for later PEG conservation and reassembling in a future exhibition.
As one of the first results, it can be said, that the vessel seems to be of Swedish origin. The dendro samples fit best into Swedish material and even the cargo is so specific, that it points to this origin. Limestone of this special kind can only be found on the isle of Öland.
Zeichnen der Planken


© Landesamt f. Bodendenkmalpflege
The vessel itself is supposed to be of an original length of 30m and it shows a unique construction. The planking beneath the frames consists of 2 complete layers of planks: The inner one is of clinkbuild shape, the outer one is of the carveel type. To compensate for the inevitable empty space between the two layers, small wooden laths of triangular cross section were inserted.

(Michael Stoß)